There was a tap on the door before Larry’s face appeared in Bob’s mirror. Bob the Tomato was peering closely at his eye, removing the makeup he wore for the camera. Even at a distance, he could see Larry the Cucumber had taken only a careless swipe at his. Or maybe he left some on purpose. Larry was such a vain son of a bitch.
Bob chided himself for his negativity, and turned to his costar. “Hey pal. What’s up?”
“Me, as usual,” Larry deadpanned. He invited himself in. “Wrap on this episode, eh? Millions of kiddies will be better human beings for our efforts. Wanna go out and celebrate?”
Bob gulped. Larry’s nightlife was a little out of his league. But turning him down would create bad feelings on the set, and it would only be a couple hours. It wasn’t really a choice. “Sure, love to. I gotta be home early, though. Beauty rest and all.”
Larry smirked. “Sure, pal. Grab your gear and let’s go. Place I got in mind is just up the street.”
The tomato didn’t ask where they were going. Knowing Larry, it was bound to be some dive of a pickup bar. The two of them tripped along the sidewalk under the frowsy lighting of the streetlights; for all the show’s wholesome reputation, they shot in a pretty sleazy neighborhood. They came to an unmarked door, and the cuke put a hand behind Bob’s back to usher him in.
Bob shivered. Oh god, this was worse than he expected. “A… salad bar, Larry? These places make me a little queasy.”
“You’re too much, Bob,” he laughed, pounding the tomato on the back. He ordered rum and coke for both of them, then took off to prowl the room.
Bob stayed by the bar, using it as a vantage point. Some rough-looking potatoes stood by the door and laughed too loud, while a pepper plugged the jukebox with quarters, playing salsa. To his right was a parsnip with what looked like a serious attitude problem. Bob glanced at the guy’s drink. When he saw it was a bloody mary he felt his stomach turn.
A little cantaloupe sat on his left. She stirred a martini slowly and hummed a melancholy tune. He was just about to start up a conversation, when a droopy carrot came over. He nudged the melon and dropped a large bill in front of her.
“Meetcha in the back room in five,” she said with a wink.
Bob turned around and sat so that he was facing the bar. If he minded his own business, maybe this ordeal would be over soon.
This hope was dashed when Larry’s laugh broke into his musings. He forced himself to turn around and greet the cucumber. Larry was surrounded by a bunch of giggling radishes.
“Hey, Bob, these gals want to meet you. They’re all big, big fans of ours, right girls?” Larry nudged him and whispered, “Might as well take advantage of a little star power, right?”
The bunch giggled. Bob got out the pen he always carried to sign autographs, and the girls handed cocktail napkins to him. He signed under the bar’s name and handed the napkins back to the radishes, who kissed them and shoved them into purses and bras. Larry, meanwhile, had taken one of them aside. They were all over each other. Larry had one hand on her round hip while another fondled its way under her tube top, and she, for her part, stroked the cucumber in the most provocative manner. Larry finally pulled his tongue out of her mouth long enough to say, “Come on, Bob, pick a radish. Or maybe two. Time to eat your veggies, Round Guy.”
“I don’t think so. Not tonight.”
Larry broke away from the spicy root. He looked peeved. “Come on Bob, why do you always have to be like this? The show’s producers aren’t looking. They sure as fuck don’t come in here. Why can’t you cut loose a little?”
Bob cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably, making the barstool squeak. “I– I don’t know, Larry. I know you have your own, uh, private life and everything–”
“Damn straight. Whadaya expect? After all, I am a cucumber.”
“Yeah.” Bob had always suspected Larry had more than a little pride about being a phallic symbol. “But–” Bob hesitated.
“But what?” Larry puffed out in exasperation.
“Well, I wouldn’t want this to get around. Especially to the guys that produce the show.”
“Come on, Bob. I’m your pal. You can tell me.” He came uncomfortably close and took an elbow.
The tomato cringed a little, both from the touch and Larry’s breath. He looked into the expectant eyes. “Aw, I guess I can tell you. Larry, I’m a fruit.”
Larry dropped his elbow and stepped back. It was his turn to look a little ill. Without a word he placed a hand on his date’s ass and guided her toward the back room.